Kukkula Wines

Friday August 31, 2018

"intensity is the price of excellence" - Warren Buffett

Inten­si­ty is the price of excel­lence” – War­ren Buf­fett

I’m told I’m an intense guy. Even though I know that, I find myself try­ing to change the nar­ra­tive because being intense” can have a neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tion. I’m dwelling on this as I’m mulling over where this newslet­ter is head­ed, and I’m ana­lyz­ing my intense­ness.

This com­pelled me to look up the def­i­n­i­tion of intense:

  1. of extreme force, degree, or strength.
  2. hav­ing or show­ing strong feel­ings or opin­ions; extreme­ly earnest or serious.


What got me going down this path were two things. First, we just got back from our annu­al month-long stay at our cab­in in North­ern Ontario, and while there, Paula sug­gest­ed I talk about our annu­al vaca­tion in the fall newslet­ter. As I was out­lin­ing that ver­sion of the newslet­ter, I found myself get­ting caught up in the weeds of our his­to­ry there rather than why we go there and the emo­tions it evokes.

Sec­ond, we just had a won­der­ful sto­ry writ­ten about kukku­la in the Wine Advo­cate that came out a few days ago. RH Drex­el, the writer, did a great job cap­tur­ing the essence of kukku­la and the seri­ous­ness of mis­sion that I feel. The arti­cle has a pic­ture of me tak­en a few years ago in Cana­da. I rather like this pic­ture, yet of all the pic­tures I sent the Advo­cate to use for the sto­ry, they chose the only one where I wasn’t smil­ing. I sup­pose they were try­ing to cap­ture an image of a seri­ous wine­mak­er.

So, while I was for­mu­lat­ing ideas about our annu­al trip, it made me reflect on who I am in June (just before tak­ing off to Cana­da) ver­sus who I am dur­ing the month of July, while we’re there.

Many of you know I was born in Sud­bury, Ontario, a city about 300 miles north of Toron­to. My par­ents moved to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia before my fifth birth­day in 1964. In 1968 they pur­chased some land on Lake Tyson, about an hour’s dri­ve south of Sud­bury.

Half of my larg­er fam­i­ly lives in Ontario, and near­by provinces. The oth­er half live in Fin­land. My mom, like my dad, is Finnish, but Cana­di­an born. She was raised in Sud­bury, which at the time had a very high con­cen­tra­tion of Finns. Many Finns moved there because it looked like home.

We vis­it­ed our Cana­di­an fam­i­ly a hand­ful of times after we moved to Cal­i­for­nia, and in the sum­mer of 1968, my dad built a small cab­in on Lake Tyson (Cana­di­ans call them camps.). Until I left home, all of our vis­its from then on were focused on stay­ing in that camp at the lake. I loved that place!

Dur­ing col­lege and ear­ly in my career, I took a hia­tus. Fun­ny how school and a lack of mon­ey get in the way! My first trip back in 1987 rekin­dled my love of the place. So in 2002, when my par­ents decid­ed to sell the camp, I bought it. In 2004 Paula and I built a new, larg­er camp right on the lakeshore.

For those of you who have nev­er spent time in that part of the world, it is sit­u­at­ed on the Cana­di­an Shield, which cov­ers over half of Cana­da from the Great Lakes to the Arc­tic Ocean. It’s heav­i­ly forest­ed and dot­ted with thou­sands of lakes; many are inter­con­nect­ed. Pop­u­la­tion is sparse, and wildlife is abun­dant. Many of the camps are remote, acces­si­ble only by boat or float plane, as is the case with ours.

Our dai­ly mode of trans­porta­tion is a boat. Our home is solar and propane pow­ered. We have no elec­tron­ic devices. We have nei­ther inter­net nor phone ser­vice. Most morn­ings I fish ear­ly with my boys. Fish­ing there is as good as it gets! We sleep, read, play card games and board games, swim, kayak, canoe, hike, vis­it friends and fam­i­ly, eat great food, and con­sume plen­ty of wine. We have a wood-burn­ing sauna, which is lit every evening and enjoyed after din­ner along with swim­ming in the lake. Prob­a­bly the best sleep­ing pill you’ll ever take!

This is our time as a fam­i­ly to recon­nect, to rest, to re-cen­ter and take inven­to­ry of who we are, where we’ve been, and where we want to go. We’ve been mak­ing this trip as a fam­i­ly now for 23 years. It’s also a time for me to think and plan with­out the over-the-top dis­trac­tions of our con­nect­ed lives. Most of all, it’s that time when Kevin, the intense guy, per­haps dis­ap­pears.

When return­ing to civ­i­liza­tion I try to hold on to that mind­set. I’m get­ting bet­ter at it, but invari­ably I find myself becom­ing that intense guy all over again. By the time we’re deep in har­vest, the buzz is gone!

For bet­ter or worse, that’s how I’m wired. I choose to think it’s a reflec­tion of my pas­sion and com­mit­ment to farm­ing and wine­mak­ing, and my desire to suc­ceed at what­ev­er I pur­sue.

Among the syn­onyms for intense are: extreme, acute, severe, excep­tion­al, harsh, pow­er­ful, vig­or­ous, seri­ous, pas­sion­ate, impas­sioned, ardent, fiery, and emo­tion­al.

This har­vest I vow to focus on being excep­tion­al, seri­ous, and pas­sion­ate, and try to not let the acute, harsh, and fiery side of me show up too much.



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